Where to Buy?
There are four main places to buy a vehicle.
- Franchised Dealer
These are dealers who have the right to retail vehicles on behalf of the manufacturer and will sell both new and used vehicles. They are generally the most expensive way to buy but the service is high in nature.
- Independent Dealer
These dealers are numerous and are covered under consumer legislation. Some are members of trade organisations.
This is not a dealer and prices are generally lower, however the buyer has less come back as consumer legislation does not reach to cover private sales.
The cheapest place to purchase a car but it should only be for those accustomed to the process.
According to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, a motor vehicle must be in roadworthy condition when sold to a consumer via a trader. It is an offence under the Sale of Goods & Supply of Services Act,1980 to sell a car to a consumer which is not roadworthy. It is also an offence under Road Traffic legislation which is enforced by An Garda Siochana. A trader must not give misleading material information in relation to any aspect of the car, including it’s history (such as if the car has been crashed, clocked, on finance, imported etc.), specification, the need for any repair or other work required on the car etc.
Furthermore, a trader must also not give misleading information about themselves which would harm any recourse that the vendor may require. An example of this would be advertising false after sales, assistance or warranty. You should also ask if the vendor has a TAN number or VAT number and these can be verified with Revenue.
Unfortunately consumer protection legislation does not cover private sales. However you should ask as many questions as possible and document the answers. Get the vendor to sign the document with those questions answered. This would assist you in the event legal action was required to be brought against the vendor.
Pick a vehicle which best suits your lifestyle for the duration of the ownership period. Consider the running cost of the vehicle made up of service costs, fuel economy, and insurance costs. Will you need additional space? Are you conscious of the environment?
Before test driving or even inspecting the vehicle, ask the vendor (seller) to show you the Vehicle Registration Certificate (VRC) if the vehicle is Irish. If the vehicle is an import from the UK ask to see the V5C. These documents are the ownership documents for the vehicle and are often referred to as the “log book”. It is imperative that the person selling the vehicle, must correspond to the name on the V5C or VRC and you must ask for proof of identity if buying privately.
A dealer should also have this document but the name would still be in the last owner as a dealer is not normally classed as an owner if they intend to sell the vehicle. The VRC has a letter followed by a number on the top right hand corner of the first page. It should look like C061234567. Take down these digits and match them when getting your Cartell Car Check. If they do not match with Cartell the document could be forged and the vehicle may be stolen or a clone/ringer. A clone or ringer is a vehicle which is made to look like another vehicle and is generally a stolen vehicle using the identity of a clean vehicle without the knowledge of the owner of the clean vehicle.
The vehicle you choose will be to a certain specification. The engine size, fuel type, date of registration and colour will be detailed on the VRC. You should check this against the vehicle. There are instances where the seller will try to gain more value by pretending the vehicle is of a higher power or higher trim level. The correct specification will be detailed on your Cartell Car Check.
Viewing the Vehicle – Exterior
Bring a measuring tape, magnifying glass and a torch with you when viewing the vehicle and never rush. View it at the seller’s home address. Always view the vehicle in daylight. Ensure the vehicle is clean and dry, as dirt can hide damage. Use your measuring tape and magnifying glass. Are there signs of inconsistent gaps between panels? Is the paint finish even across the car? Are there traces of spray paint on door handles, window seals and mouldings? If you lift the boot carpet can you see any colour variance?
Do all of the glass panels have the same code? If not is it just one window or are all the window codes different? Both front codes should match each other as should the back. Is there evidence of welding in the boot or under the bonnet, along A, B and C pillars? Check the tyres to see if there is any uneven wear and make sure that the tyres have over 3mm of depth. Is there rust on the vehicle? Compare light clusters to see if they differ and check for water ingress in the lights and in the boot. Is there now or was there ever a tow bar fitted? Look under the back of the vehicle to check for any holes where bolts etc may have been fitted to hold a tow bar.
Use your torch to look under the vehicle body. With the vehicle on level ground, push the front drivers corner down and ensure that the vehicle bounces back up once. Make sure that the vehicle is level when you look at it from any side.
Viewing the Vehicle – Interior
Do all the seatbelts lock? Do they look worn or torn? Pull the belt hard and ensure it locks. Do the air bag warning lights function and extinguish once the ignition starts. Do all the switches, fan, lights, sunroof, instrument cluster work? Does the air conditioning cool as this can be very expensive to repair? Is the clutch pedal badly worn as this may indicate higher mileage or a tendency to “ride the clutch”.
Go to the boot and pull back the carpet. Sometimes the VIN is located there and also check for welding, paint work and ensure that the spare tyre or space saver is present and in good condition with a tyre depth of greater than 3mm. Make sure the Jack is in the boot.
Driving the vehicle
Always take a test drive. However, please ensure that you have the relevant qualifications and insurance to drive the vehicle. Start the vehicle from cold. Are there any abnormal noises when the engine is started from cold? Does the oil warning light go out as soon as the engine starts? Are there signs of excessive visible exhaust emissions? Blue smoke may indicate oil burning, white vapour is just water which is a bi-product of clean combustion, and black smoke from diesels which is not great for the environment can be normal as long as its not excessive or present when idling.
Look for a recent emissions test, either alone or as part of an NCT. This will confirm that emissions are within the stringent limits applied to modern cars.
Lift the oil filler cap. There should be no scum under it. When you press down on the clutch, do you hear noises or does the clutch bite more than halfway down? Is the braking even or can you feel the car pull to one side? Are there any unusual noises when you brake? Can the vehicle stop in a straight line in an emergency under full load. Drive the vehicle to 50 km/h and then stop suddenly and listen for noises. Make sure this manoeuvre is done in a safe and isolated environment.
Open the bonnet. Always use personal protective equipment when working with fluids. Dip the oil level stick to ensure that the vehicle has the correct amount of oil. Oil should be dark brown with no solids evident. Fresh oil will be golden in colour. White spots under the filler cap may indicate the presence of water. Transmission fluid is pink. Check that the power steering and brake fluid levels are within the safe zone. To inspect the coolant level or to internally view the radiator level, make sure the vehicle is cold. Coolant can be blue, pink or green but never milky or rusty. If there are greenish stains on the radiator these could be a sign of pinhole leaks in the radiator.
Carefully take off the caps to look at the liquid electrolyte levels. If it’s low, it may not mean a whole lot, or it may mean that the battery has had to work too hard. Try to locate the engine number and confirm this with the engine number on your Cartell Car Check. A different number could indicate an engine change.
Always insist on seeing the service history and look at the service book to see where the vehicle was serviced last and what work if any was carried out. Note the mileage on the history and contact the manufacturer or the place where the vehicle was serviced and confirm if the timing belt was changed and if the mileage was recorded.
When a vehicles odometer is interfered with and the mileage reduced, this is known as clocking. Clocking is a major safety concern, as a vehicle with more mileage than indicated may not have had the correct servicing at manufacturers recommended intervals. This leads to increased incidents of mechanical failure resulting in a vehicle having to stop at inopportune locations, for example motorways. In extreme cases it may cause an accident during timing belt failure at high speeds. Use the mileage on the odometer and compare it to the service history and the manufacturer. Check any part of the interior that a human can touch. Look for signs of wear. Is the steering wheel shiny? Are the radio buttons, electric window buttons and indicators a different shade than the rest of the plastic dash? Have the pedals been replaced? Is the driver’s seat worn? Are there worn screws in the dashboard suggesting that the instruments might have been tampered with? (Modern digital odometers may be tampered with electronically so such clues won’t exist). If you have evidence that a car has been clocked, even if a seller offers a refund you should contact the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. You can get a mileage check on a Cartell Car Check. When you get a Cartell Car Check, you will get a mileage check included as long as you enter the current mileage reading. This mileage is cross referenced against Ireland’s largest database of mileages, the National Mileage Register (NMR) and your Cartell Car Check will state whether there are higher readings for the vehicle on that database or not. Please check out NMR.ie for more details.
The VIN or Chassis
Each vehicle built which conforms to the World Manufacturer Identifier has a unique 17 digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). This is the birth mark of the vehicle. It is stamped into the chassis (skeleton) in at least one location but there is normally more than one location. Lift the carpet in the boot, or check the windscreen or the drivers pillar behind the door to view the VIN. It is advisable to check the VIN/Chassis in more than two places on the vehicle. If you are unsure where to look, contact your local garage, they should be able to tell you. Always compare the VIN with your Cartell Car Check (see Complete my Cartell Check) to ensure that the VIN matches the registration. It is easy for a criminal to order a new set of plates for a stolen vehicle. It is harder to replace the VIN. Ensure that the VIN has no digits scratched out and there is no evidence of welding around the VIN.
There are bargains to be had buying a vehicle from the UK. However if you buy privately it is much more difficult to seek recourse and the law of the land where the vehicle is purchased would apply and not necessarily Irish law. Furthermore Cartell uncovered shocking statistics with regard to clocked, written off and vehicles with outstanding finance from the UK being sold in Ireland. Up to 18% of the UK vehicles in Ireland are clocked while 10.75% are written off. You must always verify the UK V5C (see the section on vehicle documentation). A Cartell Three Star Car Check will alert you to such issues. Cartell is partnered with HPI UK, the market leader and the first in the world to supply car history. They have the most comprehensive database in the UK and they own the National Mileage Register (NMR UK) for the UK. Cartell is the only company in Ireland with licensed access to HPI UK’s data. When you carry out a Cartell Three Star Car Check, a full HPI UK history check will be included free if the vehicle has been imported from the UK. This gives you complete peace of mind at no extra cost.
You should always clarify the warranty given with the vehicle and ensure that you get it in writing.
Never pay for a vehicle in cash. The preferred method of payment according to An Garda Siochana is by bank draft or bank transfer in the sellers name, where an audit trail would exist. Agree the price and if paying a deposit, ensure that you get a receipt. Do up a checklist of key questions asked and get the seller to sign the receipt. Ideally go together with the seller to the bank to carry out the transfer as this helps to rule out a forged bank draft or other issues. As soon as the deal is done, ensure that both parties sign the VRC Change of Ownership section and post it to the Department of Transport, Shannon, Co. Clare. Make sure that you get both sets of keys for the vehicle and ensure they open all doors.
Car Matching Schemes
If you are selling your vehicle, be aware of companies who pertain to have a number of buyers ready for your car. They will charge you a fee for this service. You may never hear from them again once you have handed over the cash by Visa or any other method.
Outstanding finance is the biggest risk facing used car buyers, with 14% of all cars checked by Cartell still subject to a finance agreement. If the outstanding finance remains unpaid when you purchase the vehicle, you may not acquire title to it. Carry out a Cartell Three Star Car Check. You will receive the relevant history and information to show if there are such problems.
No company in Ireland has access to the official An Garda Síochána stolen files. Whilst Cartell are working very hard with An Garda Síochána for the release of this data, we advise not to be mis-sold data which contains a stolen vehicle check.
The best advice when buying a vehicle is to seek professional assistance. You can search for an Automotive Engineer Inspection online and these services usually include a short road test and external visual inspection – check with your engineer first. The road test can determine if there are any apparent and immediate difficulties with the vehicle. The external visual inspection can confirm that the vehicle is in a reasonable condition or if there is any evidence of body repair. These services are not available through Cartell.ie.
Get a Cartell Car Check
Use the information supplied in a Cartell Car Check to verify the vehicle and vehicle documentation before you proceed with the purchase. Match the Vehicle Registration Certificate (VRC) Number, Chassis Number and NCT Certificate Number and avoid a stolen or cloned vehicle.
A Cartell Car Check can be used as a tool to help avoid purchasing a vehicle with an undesirable history. It is imperative to check and cross reference all details on the Cartell Car Check with the vehicle documentation. For full Chassis Number, VRC and NCT Certificate verification you can enter the details when you are buying your Cartell Car Check. Use the information supplied in a Cartell Car Check to verify the vehicle and vehicle documentation before you proceed with the purchase. Match the Vehicle Registration Certificate (VRC) Number, Chassis Number and NCT Certificate Number. Ask to see the vendors’ identification and ensure the name and address match the details on the VRC to ensure the vendor is the owner of the vehicle.
Log into the ‘Complete my Cartell Check’ area on Cartell.ie within 30 days after the date you purchased your Cartell Car Check and enter the details using the Vehicle Registration Number and your order number or email address.
Buying Advice provided by www.cartell.ie
Buyers Check List
- Sellers name & address (Does it match the name & address on the VRC?)
- View vehicle at the address (Does it match the address on the VRC?)
- Check VRC matches the vehicle and Cartell (Confirm the VRC number on Cartell)
- Check the VIN on the vehicle matches the VRC and Cartell
- Check the NCT number on the vehicle matches Cartell
- Check there’s a full service history
- Check the Manufacturer’s warranty is still valid
- Arrange a Pre-Purchase Inspection to ensure the vehicle is road worthy
Private Car Sale Receipt
The buyer and vendor should sign the receipt and both keep a copy as proof of sale.
Please download and print out the Cartell ‘Buyers Checklist and Private Sale Receipt (PDF | 34KB)’.